The most incredible thing happened last week…
I already knew that I wanted to dedicate the May newsletter to “Digital Dementia” and what the pandemic and our world has done to our shrinking thinking capacity. Well, scratch that. I am saving that for next month.
This month is dedicated to this amazing happenstance that I am about to describe. Picture this. I was exiting the hospital elevator after my 6-month medical checkup (everything is great, thank you!), turned the corner, and there it was. I stopped dead in my tracks. There was a table with a lovely lady and her little typewriter sitting behind it, and two signs on the table: “Tell us your story” and “Listener Poet”. You are invited to sit down, tell Jenny (the listener poet of the day) your story. She listens deeply and creates a poem from your story. I learned that she represents goodlistening.org, an organization which promotes good listening in hospitals to support patient safety, physician wellbeing, and nursing resilience. That’s all I needed to hear, and my mind was running at full speed.
I have been researching the concept of deep listening for years. I am currently working on a book and a course about this concept. I have identified the ways in which unmanaged egos, lack of empathy, narcissism and egocentrism derail this most important skill for connection and relationship building. In fact, unadulterated listening without judgment, only kindness and inquiry, is one of the greatest gifts each of us can give to one another. Deep listening, without a hidden agenda, a rebuttal or a debate, and just being open and present to whatever the speaker chooses to share is incredibly healing and a great blessing.
So, there I was, telling Jenny, the listener poet, about what was on my mind. That poor woman. She filled up a legal pad, and that was just from this week! She laughed, cried, had moments of incredulity, and said absolutely nothing in response. Zero. Not one word. She just took notes. As I ended my story, filled with tangents, improbabilities, pain, hope, embarrassment, humor and self-deprecation, she said, “Thank you. Do you have a specific subtopic you would like me to write about? If not, I will analyze the themes, and I will send you my poem shortly”.
That was it. Jenny is my new BFF.
Implications of “Deep Listening” in the World of Education
Think about the primary and secondary effects of deep listening might have on administrators, teachers, students, and even yourself.
Providing Deep Listening
- What would happen if we promoted good listening to support administrator, teacher and student wellbeing?
- In what ways could you provide the gift of deep listening to others?
Managing our Ego and Withholding Judgment
- What might the secondary effects be when we learn to manage our own egos?
- What are the effects of withholding judgment of others?
Understanding Deep Listening
- What is it that deep listening provides which strengthens psychological safety and the willingness to trust?
- What are the key attributes of deep listening which makes us choose to be vulnerable, honest, honest and embrace our broken pieces as we share?
Receiving Deep Listening
- When have you received the gift of deep listening and what was its impact?
- If you deeply listened to yourself, what would your inner knowing tell you that you have been trying hard not to hear?
5 of my Favorite Books on Listening:
- Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope for the Future by Margaret Wheatley
- Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention by Julia Cameron
- Listening Well: The Art of Empathic Understanding by William Miller
- The Listening Leader: Creating the Conditions for Equitable School Transformation by Shane Safir
- You’re Not Listening: What you’re Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy
5 of my Favorite Quotes on Listening:
- “Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.” – Dean Jackson
- “Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it.” – John Maxwell
- “Most people don’t listen to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
- “Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy Bennett
- “Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart.” – Tich Nhat Hanh